World Cup Report: Oberstdorf Recap, Falun Preview
Oberstdorf, Germany, is the venue for the world championships next season and athletes got their first look at the course. This is the first weekend that the entire field of skiers was present and it was all systems go for a competitive preview of the world championships. The new course is one of the most difficult on the racing circuit with 4 extremely difficult climbs and very little rest. The sprint course is comprised of three uphills, three downhills, and a downhill finish. It was really a fun race to watch and tactics/strategy will mean more than ever with this technical course.
- Jan 25 15km/30km Skiathlon
- Jan 26 Classic Sprints
Mass Start Pursuit
The men’s race was a thriller all the way to the very end. In the first 15km classic leg it was Iivo Niskanen who took an early lead and tried to go off the front of the group. He was able to open up a 10 second gap on the rest of the field. Unfortunately it was not enough for the Finn and he was caught in the early stages of the skate leg. At the start of the skate leg it would be a group of 14 men. Alexander Bolshunov of Russia, and Simen Krueger of Norway would start a pace that broke apart the group into seven men, which included ironmen Martin Sundby of Norway and Dario Cologna of Switzerland. At the end of the day it came down to a sprint finish as Bolshunov was able to take the win with Norweigians Krueger taking second and Hans Holund taking third. There were only two American men starters for the day and unfortunately one finisher. Ian Torchia was unable to finish due to illness and fatigue and looks to regain some form and speed in Scandinavia early next month. David Norris was the other American to start the weekend’s race and looked to be racing into a top 20 positions. Norris fell hard on one of the downhills losing close to 20 positions in the process. Norris was able to climb back into the top 30 and finished 28th overall adding another impressive world cup result to his résumé.
In the women’s field Therese Johaug of Norway looked to try and break apart the group early. The rest of the field was able to keep in contact with her and stay within attacking distance. Unfortunately the tempo and speed was too much and Johaug was able to get away with a narrow victory. Teammate Ingvild Oestberg was able to out sprint Theresa Stadlober for the second position. Ebba Anderson of the Swedish team just didn’t have enough in the tank to sprint and finished a boot length off of the podium. Rosie Brennan was the top American finisher in 17th after a hard fought race. Brennan was fighting in a group of 9 skiers and fell 10 seconds short of a top 15 finish. Jessica Diggins was another athlete from the US who didn’t feel quite as sharp and looked to rebound in the sprints. Caitlin Patterson rounded off the top three individuals for the USA. The distance course is an extremely difficult one and many athletes either pulled out or were not able to keep up with the grueling pace.
After a disappointing skiathlon it was the Norwegian sprint specialist, Johannes Klæbo, returned to prime form for the classic sprints. Klæbo ran away with the men’s title by almost 2 ski lengths and showed no mercy after a DNF the day prior. Paal Golberg of Norway, who managed to get through to the finals as the last lucky loser from the semis, worked his way through the group to a second place finish. Erik Valnes finished in third place making it a clean sweep for the Norwegians in the men’s field. Unfortunately none of the US men were able to qualify to heats. Simi was the top finisher in 32nd position. The women on the other hand had a fantastic day having three in the top 10 and four in the top 16 skiers. After a down day on Saturday Jessie Diggins, like Klæbo, came back with a vengeance and raced to a 3rd place finish. Diggins barely squeaked into the finals as the final lucky loser spot in the semifinal heats. Russian, Natalia Nepryaeva, was able to dethrone the sprint queen Anamarija Lampic by just a boot length to get back on top of the podium. The other top finishers from the US women were Sophie Caldwell who battled to a fourth place finish and Sadie Maubet-Bjornsen finished ninth and just didn’t have enough to get out of the semi-final heats. This sprint course favors the tactically savvy skiers and all the men and women US ski team members are some of the best at making their moves. It will be an exciting world championship if these results correlate to success next season.
- Feb 08 Classic Sprint
- 7:15AM CST Final heats start
- Feb 09 Freestyle Mass Start 15km/30km
- 2:30AM CST start Men
- 7:30AM CST start Women
Racers will have a much-needed week off and then head to Falun for a weekend of racing before the ski tour races begin. Many teams will be having a mini training camp during this time period and ramp up for the last two months of competition. The US Ski Team will be training in Seefeld Austria for the week before heading north to Sweden. The men will look to get healthy and recover from injuries or illness. The women will look to continue the success they have had all season and will have high goals going into the ski tour races. Falun is a regular stop on the world cup tour and is known for its long climbs followed by long descents. The 5km course is comprised of a 1km of slow rolling flat followed by 3km of climbing sections of course and the final 1km is a screaming set of downhills that wrap you back into the stadium. Every year we see the best racers are those can attack the uphill and still stay aggressive on the downhill to make up time. In the sprint races it is another tricky course, which includes blazing fast downhills followed by one of the longest finishing straights of the season. This is a course for the big strong sprinters to show their dominance.
About the author...
Chris Hecker is a Rex Wax representative and wax technician working on the World Cup this season for both cross-country and biathlon events. Hecker hails from Ham Lake, Minnesota, racing for Anoka high school and St. Scholastica College. Hecker will be providing regular updates on the World Cup racing scene this season. Chris can be reached at:
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